Gulu Municipality authorities have failed to recover millions of shillings advanced to several youth groups under the government Youth Livelihood Fund project, Daily Monitor has established.
According to the authorities, a total of Shs327 million was advanced to 37 youth groups in the four divisions of Pece, Laroo, Layibi and Bardege within the Municipality since 2014 but only Shs66 million of the funds have been recovered.
During a financial audit conducted by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee on Local Government that sat in Gulu District, it was revealed that many youth groups within the municipality had shunned refunding the money.
Mr Reagan Okumu (Aswa County), the Committee chairman, in an interview with yesterday said some of the groups are currently untraceable. He cast doubt on whether the fund will be recovered.
“The Youth Livelihood project is a failed one in Gulu Municipality and in the whole country. Recovery of the funds is one of the worst. How can some of the groups who got about Shs5 million only be able to pay Shs10,000?” he asks.
He adds that there is little hope in the Youth Livelihood Fund project in the whole country and proposes that government restructures the programme to achieve its intended objective.
“The project should be restructured; it should not be a free project as youth are thinking. The fund should be given to well-organised groups which are already existing and carrying out a particular activity,” Mr Okumu says.
He notes that money recovered from the various youth groups should be recycled and given out to other groups who are succeeding in their ventures.
The Gulu Municipal town clerk, Mr Francis Barabanawe, acknowledges the officials have not been able to recover the money because of the wrong perception the youth have over repayment.
“Majority of them say the fund is a donation to the youth by the government and because of this, they don’t see any reason as to why they should pay back,” Mr Barabanawe says.
He also notes that most of the youth groups chose wrong enterprises that turned out not to be profitable.
According to Mr Barabanawe, the municipal authorities have currently embarked on sensitising the youth groups so that they voluntarily repay the cash advanced to them.
“We believe the youth were misled by political statements that the money was a donation. Through our engagement with them, we hope they will understand and voluntarily pay the money,” Mr Barabanawe says.